Greek banks re-open after three weeks

Athens, July 20 (IANS) Banks in Greece re-opened on Monday after three weeks of closure sparked by the deadlock over the country’s debt, a media report said.

People will be now able to withdraw up to 420 euros (about $455) a week in one transaction, The Guardian reported.

The initial withdrawal amount was limited to 60 euros ($66) a day, after the shutdown was imposed on June 29 to prevent the financial system from collapsing

Restrictions on sending money abroad and other controls have not been lifted and the Athens stock market is closed until further notice.

“Capital controls and restrictions on withdrawals will remain in place but we are entering a new stage which we all hope will be one of normality,” Louka Katseli, head of the Greek bank association, said.

Also from Monday, due to the new reforms, the Greek government agreed with the Eurozone to secure the bailout, Value Added Tax (VAT) on food and public transport is now 23 percent, up from 13 percent.

The VAT increase was among a package of reforms demanded by Greece’s creditors to open talks on the proposed 86 billion Euros ($89 billion) bailout.

Ahead of the re-opening of the banks, officials urged Greeks to return cash they have been storing at home to their banks.

“When the banks re-open and normality is restored, let’s all help our economy. If we take our money out of chests and from our homes — where they are not safe in any case — and we deposit them in the banks, we will strengthen the liquidity of the economy,” Katseli said on Sunday.

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